Is It Time for Range Shaming?
Here’s a moment I’ve experienced all too often. A home chefy-chef has invited me to dinner. Since chef knows who I am and what I write about there has been a careful parsing of the climate-good from planet-bad at the grocery store. The grass-fed, organic blahbity blah is lined up neatly on a plank, ready for searing. The micro greens are so damn local they might as well have been harvested from the dresser drawer.
And yet when it comes time for him (and yes, in this case, it’s usually a him) to get all that pan searing going, the chefy-chef draws my attention to the pride of his kitchen. A six-burner beast of a gas range specifically designed, as the New York Times recently put it “for people with big budgets who want a heavy-duty stove that makes a bold design statement.”
Well here’s a bold statement: that big, flaming gas range is a climate catastrophe.
Natural gas, which has of late been sold to consumers as a cheaper and cleaner alternative, turns out to be invisibly problematic. Put simply, natural gas is leaky. Every time you turn on your stove, or every time your water heater fires up, methane leaks into the atmosphere. And before it even gets to your home, gas leaks from the ground during extraction and spurts out of pipelines as it moves from the gas field to home.
Think carefully before you act on the range-envy you feel when your chefy-chef friend fires up his big gas beast
Aside from the leaking happening even before natural gas enters your home, there is an even more glaring element of waste that happens right at the stovetop. When you cook on a gas stove, only about 40 percent of the energy from the flame gets to your food. Additionally, since gas ranges are responsible for the majority of the toxic nitrogen oxides that end up trapped in your home, switching to electric also has significant health benefits.
In fairness I probably would have never gotten off gas had I not been forced to when Con Edison unceremoniously shut down the line to half our Manhattan apartment building while they went looking for one of those insidious leaks. No sooner…